Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 103, November 26, 1892 online

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VOL. 103.

November 26, 1892.



A Philosopher has deigned to address to me a letter. "Sir," writes
my venerable correspondent, "I have been reading your open letters to
Abstractions with some interest. You will, however, perhaps permit
me to observe that amongst those to whom you have written are not a
few who have no right whatever to be numbered amongst Abstractions.
Laziness, for instance, and Crookedness, and Irritation - not to
mention others - how is it possible to say that these are Abstractions?
They are concrete qualities and nothing else. Forgive me for making
this correction, and believe me yours, &c. A PLATONIST." - To which I
merely reply, with all possible respect, "Stuff and nonsense!" I know
my letters have reached those to whom they were addressed, no single
one has come back through the Dead-letter Office, and that is enough
for me. Besides, there are thousands of Abstractions that the mind
of "A PLATONIST" has never conceived. Somewhere I know, there is an
abstract Boot, a perfect and ideal combination of all the qualities
that ever were or will be connected with boots, a grand exemplar
to which all material boots, more or less, nearly approach; and by
their likeness to which they are recognised as boots by all who in
a previous existence have seen the ideal Boot. Sandals, mocassins,
butcher-boots, jack-boots, these are but emanations from the great
original. Similarly, there must be an abstract Dog, to the likeness of
which, in one respect or another, both the Yorkshire Terrier and the
St. Bernard conform. So much then for "A PLATONIST." And now to the
matter in hand.


My dear FAILURE, there exists amongst us, as, indeed, there has
always existed, an innumerable body of those upon whom you have cast
your melancholy blight. Amongst their friends and acquaintances they
are known by the name you yourself bear. They are the great army of
failures. But there must be no mistake. Because a man has had high
aspirations, has tried with all the energy of his body and soul to
realise them, and has, in the end, fallen short of his exalted aim,
he is not, therefore, to be called a failure. MOSES, I may remind you,
was suffered only to look upon the Promised Land from a mountain-top.
Patriots without number - KOSSUTH shall be my example - have fought
and bled, and have been thrust into exile, only to see their objects
gained by others in the end. But the final triumph was theirs surely
almost as much as if they themselves had gained it. On the other hand
there are those who march from disappointment to disappointment, but
remain serenely unconscious of it all the time. These are not genuine
failures. There is CHARSLEY, for instance, journalist, dramatist,
novelist - Heaven knows what besides. His plays have run, on an
average, about six nights; his books, published mostly at his own
expense, are a drug in the market; but the little creature is as vain,
as proud, and, it must be added, as contented, as though Fame had set
him, with a blast of her golden trumpet, amongst the mighty Immortals.
What lot can be happier than his? Secure in his impregnable egotism,
ramparted about with mighty walls of conceit, he bids defiance to
attack, and lives an enviable life of self-centred pleasure.

Then, again, there was JOHNNIE TRUEBRIDGE. I do not mean to liken him
to CHARSLEY, for no more unselfish and kind-hearted being than JOHNNIE
ever breathed. But was there ever a stone that rolled more constantly
and gathered less moss? Yet no stroke could subdue his inconquerable
cheerfulness. Time after time he got his head above the waters;
time after time, some malignant emissary of fate sent him bubbling
and gasping down into the depths. He was up again in a moment,
striving, battling, buffeting. Nothing could make JOHNNIE despair, no
disappointment could warp the simple straightforward sincerity, the
loyal and almost childlike honesty of his nature. And if here and
there, for a short time, fortune seemed to shine upon him, you may be
sure that there was no single friend whom he did not call upon to bask
with him in these fleeting rays. And what a glorious laugh he had; not
a loud guffaw that splits your tympanum and crushes merriment flat,
but an irrepressible, helpless, irresistible infectious laugh, in
which his whole body became involved. I have seen a whole roomful of
strangers rolling on their chairs without in the least knowing why,
while JOHNNIE, with his head thrown back, his jolly face puckered into
a thousand wrinkles of hearty delight, and his hands pressed to his
sides, was shouting with laughter at some joke made, as most of his
jokes were, at his own expense.

It was during one of his brief intervals of prosperity, at a meet
of the Ditchington Stag-hounds that I first met JOHNNIE. He was
beautifully got up. His top-hat shone scarcely less brilliantly than
his rosy cheeks, his collar was of the stiffest, his white tie was
folded and pinned with a beautiful accuracy, his black coat fitted
him like a glove, his leather-breeches were smooth and speckless, and
his champagne-coloured tops fitted his sturdy little legs as if they
had been born with him. He was mounted on an enormous chestnut-horse,
which Anak might have controlled, but which was far above the power
and weight of JOHNNIE, plucky and determined though he was. Shortly
after the beginning of the run, while the hounds were checked, I
noticed a strange, hatless, dishevelled figure, riding furiously round
and round a field. It was JOHNNIE, whose horse was bolting with him,
but who was just able to guide it sufficiently to keep it going in
a circle instead of taking him far over hill and dale. We managed to
stop him, and I shall never forget how he laughed at his own disasters
while he was picking up his crop and replacing his hat on his head.
Not long afterwards, I saw our little Mazeppa crashing, horse and all,
into the branches of a tree, but in spite of a black eye and a deep
cut on his cheek, he finished the run - fortunately for him a very
fast and long one - with imperturbable pluck and with no further
misadventure. "Nasty cut that," I said to him as we trained back
together, "you'd better get it properly looked to in town." "Pooh,"
said JOHNNIE, "it's a mere scratch. Did you see the brute take me into
the tree? By Jove, it must have been a comic sight!" and with that he
set off again on another burst of inextinguishable laughter.

About a week after this, the usual crash came. A relative of JOHNNIE
was in difficulties. JOHNNIE, with his wonted chivalry, came to his
help with the few thousands that he had lately put by, and, in a day
or two, he was on his beam-ends once more. And so the story went on.
Money slipped through his fingers like water - prosperity tweaked
him by the nose, and fled from him, whilst friends, not a whit more
deserving, amassed fortunes, and became sleek. But he was never
daunted. With inexhaustible courage and resource, he set to work again
to rebuild his shattered edifice, confident that luck would, some day,
stay with him for good. But it never did. At last he threw in his lot
with a band of adventurers, who proposed to plant the British flag in
some hitherto unexplored regions of South or Central Africa. I dined
with JOHNNIE the evening before he left England. He was in the highest
spirits. His talk was of rich farms, of immense gold-mines. He was
off to make his pile, and would then come home, buy an estate in the
country - he had one in his eye - and live a life of sport, surrounded
by all the comforts, and by all his friends. And so we parted, never
to meet again. He was lost while making his way back to the coast with
a small party, and no trace of him has ever since been discovered.
But to his friends he has left a memory and an example of invincible
courage, and unceasing cheerfulness in the face of misfortune, of
constant helpfulness, and unflinching staunchness. Can it be said that
such a man was a failure? I don't think so. I must write again. In the
meantime I remain, as usual,


* * * * *

SIGNS OF THE SEASON. - "_Beauty's Daughters!_" These charming young
ladies are to be obtained for the small sum of one penny! as for this
trifling amount, - unless there is a seasonably extra charge, - you
can purchase the Christmas Number of the _Penny Illustrated_,
wherein Mr. CLEMENT SCOTT "our dear departed" (on tour round the
world - "globe-trotting"), leads off with some good verses. Will he be
chosen Laureate? He is away; and it is characteristic of a truly great
poet to be "absent." And the Editor, that undefeated story-teller,
tells one of his best stories in his best style, and gives us a
delightful picture of Miss ELSIE NORMAN. "Alas! she is another's!
she never can be mine!" as she is Somebody Elsie's. Success to your
Beauties, Mr. LATEY, or more correctly, Mr. EARLY-AND-LATEY, as you
bring out your Christmas Number a good six weeks before Christmas Day.

* * * * *

MOTTO FOR THE LABOUR COMMISSION. - "The proper study of mankind
is - MANN!"

* * * * *

THE NEW EMPLOYMENT. - Being "Unemployed."

* * * * *


* * * * *



_Grand Old Jarvie, loquitur_: -

O Lud! O Lud! O Lud!
(As TOM HOOD cried, apostrophising London),
November rules, a reign of rain, fog, mud,
And Summer's sun is fled, and Autumn's fun done.
Far are the fields M.P.'s have tramped and gunned on!
Malwood is far, and far is fair Dalmeny,
And Harwarden,
Like a garden
(To Caucus-mustered crowds) glowing and greeny
In soft September,
Is distant now, and dull; for 'tis November,
And we are in a Fog!
Cabbin' it, Council? Ah! each _absent_ Member
May be esteemed a vastly lucky dog!
The streets are up - of course! No Irish bog
Is darker, deeper, dirtier than that hole
SP-NC-R is staring into. On my soul,
M-RL-Y, we want that light you're seeking, swarming
Up that lank lamp-post in a style alarming!
Take care, my JOHN, you don't come down a whopper!
And you, young R-S-B-RY, if _you_ come a cropper
Over that dark, dim pile, where shall _we_ be?
Pest! I can hardly see
An inch before my nose - not to say clearly.
Hold him up, H-RC-RT! He was down then, nearly,
Our crook-knee'd "crock." Seems going very queerly,
Although so short a time out of the stable.
Quiet him, WILLIAM, quiet him! - if you're able.
This is no spot for him to fall. I dread
The need - just here - of "sitting on his head."
Cutting the traces
Will leave us dead-lock'd, _here_ of all bad places!
Oh, do keep quiet, K-MB-RL-Y! You're twitching
My cape again! Mind, ASQ-TH! You'll be pitching
Over that barrier, if you are not steady.
Fancy us getting in this fix - already!
Cabbin' it in a fog is awkward work,
Specially for the driver, who can't shirk,
When once his "fare" is taken.
I feel shaken.
'd rather drive the chariot of the Sun
(That's dangerous, but rare fun!)
Like Phaƫthon,
Than play the Jehu in a fog so woful
To this confounded "Shoful"!

* * * * *



* * * * *


_Mount Street, Berkeley Square._


More than a fortnight ago I fled from the London fog, with the result
that it got thicker than ever about me in the minds of your readers
and yourself! I determined during my absence to do what many people
in the world of Art and _Letters_ have done before me, employ a
"Ghost" - (my _first_ dealings with the supernatural, and probably my
_last_!). I wired to one of the leading Sporting Journals for their
most reliable Racing Ghost - he was busy watching _Nunthorpe_ - (who is
only the Ghost of what he was!) - and the Bogie understudy sent to
me was a Parliamentary Reporter! - (hence the stilted style of the
letter signed "POMPERSON." Heavens! what a name!) - I had five minutes
to explain the situation to him before catching the _train de
luxe_ - (Lord ARTHUR had gone on with the luggage) - and I don't
think he had the ghostliest idea of what I wanted! - the one point he
grasped, was, that he was to use anonymous names - which he did with
a vengeance! - My horror on reading his letter was such that I
dropped all the money I had in my hand on the "red" instead of the
"black" - and it won! - (I think I shall bring out a system based on

Of course all my friends thought Lord ARTHUR and I had quarrelled,
and I was "off" with someone else! - What a fog. This idea being
confirmed by the following week's letter, which was the well-meant
but misdirected effort of my friend Lady HARRIETT ENTOUCAS, to whom
I wired to "do something for me" - (she pretty nearly did for me
altogether!) - there was nothing for it but to come home - where I
am - Lord ARTHUR wanted to write you this week, but I thought one
explanation at a time quite enough - so his shall follow - "if you want
a thing done, do it yourself!" - so in future I will either be my own
Ghost or have nothing to do with them! Yours apparitionally,


* * * * *




_The majority of the Public is still outside, listening
open-mouthed to a comic dialogue between the Showman and a
juvenile and irreverent Nigger. Those who have come in find
that, with the exception of some particularly tame-looking
murderers' heads in glazed pigeon-holes, a few limp effigies
stuck up on rickety ledges, and an elderly Cart-horse in low
spirits, there is little to see at present._

_Melia_ (_to JOE, as they inspect the Cart-horse._) This 'ere can't
never be the live 'orse with five legs, as they said was to be seen

_Joe._ Theer ain't no other 'orse in 'ere, and why _shouldn't_ it be
'im, if that's all?

_Melia._ Well, I don't make out no more'n _four_ legs to'un, nohow,

_Joe._ Don't ye be in sech a 'urry, now - the Show ain't _begun_ yet!

[Illustration: "It's quoite tri-ew!"]

[_The barrel-organ outside blares "God Save the Queen," and
more Spectators come stumping down the wooden steps, followed
by the Showman._

_Showman._ I shell commence this Exhibition by inviting your
inspection of the wonderful live 'orse with five legs. (_To
the depressed Cart-horse._) 'Old up! (_The poor beast lifts his
off-fore-leg with obvious reluctance, and discloses a very small
supernumerary hoof concealed behind the fetlock._) Examine it! for
yourselves - two distinct 'oofs with shoes and nails complete - a
_great_ novelty!

_Melia._ I don't call that nothen of a leg, _I_ don't - it ain't 'ardly
a _oof_, even!

_Joe_ (_with phlegm_). That's wheer th' old 'orse gits the larf on ye,
that is!

_Showman._ We will now pass on to the Exhibition. 'Ere (_indicating
a pair of lop-sided Orientals in nondescript attire_) we 'ave two
life-sized models of the Japanese villagers who caused so much
sensation in London on account o' their peculiar features - you will
easily reckernise the female by her bein' the ugliest one o' the two.
(_Compassionate titters from the Spectators._) I will now call your
attention to a splendid group, taken from English 'Istry, and set in
motion by powerful machinery, repperesentin' the Parting Interview
of CHARLES THE FIRST with his fam'ly. (_Rolls up a painted canvas
curtain, and reveals the Monarch seated, with the Duke of GLOUCESTER
on his knee, surrounded by OLIVER CROMWELL, and as many Courtiers,
Guards, and Maids of Honour as can be accommodated in the limited
space._) I will wind up the machinery and the unfortunate King will be
seen in the act of bidding his fam'ly ajew for ever in this world.

[_CHARLES begins to click solemnly and move his head by
progressive jerks to the right, while the Little Duke
moves his simultaneously to the left, and a Courtier in the
background is so affected by the scene that he points with
respectful sympathy at nothing; the Spectators do not commit
themselves to any comments._

_Showman_ (_concluding a quotation from MARKHAM_). "And the little
Dook, with the tears a-standin' in 'is heyes, replies, 'I will be tore
in pieces fust!'" Other side, please! No, Mum, the lady in mournin'
_ain't_ the beautiful but ill-fated MARY, Queen o' Scots - it's Mrs.
MAYBRICK, now in confinement for poisonin' her 'usban', and the figger
close to her is the MAHDI, or False Prophet. In the next case we
'ave a subject selected from Ancient Roman 'Istry, bein' the story
of ANDROCLES, the Roman Slave, as he appeared when, escaping from his
crule owners, he entered a cave and found a lion which persented 'im
with 'is bleedin' paw. After some 'esitation, ANDROCLES examined the
paw, as repperesented before you. (_Winds the machinery up, whereupon
the lion opens his lower jaw and emits a mild bleat, while ANDROCLES
turns his head from side to side in bland surprise._) This lion is
the largest forestbred and blackmaned specimen ever imported into
this country - the _other_ lion standing beyind (_disparagingly_), has
nothing whatever to do with the tableau, 'aving been shot recently in
Africa by Mr. STANLEY, the two figgers at the side repperesent the
Boy Murderers who killed their own father at Crewe with a 'atchet and
other 'orrible barbarities. I shall conclude the Collection by showing
you the magnificent group repperesentin' Her Gracious Majisty the
QUEEN, as she appeared in 'er 'appier and younger days, surrounded by
the late Mr. SPURGEON, the 'Eroes of the Soudan, and other Members of
the Royal Fam'ly.


_After some tight-rope, juggling, and boneless performances
have been given in the very limited arena, the Clown has
introduced the Learned Pony._

_Clown._ Now, little Pony, go round the Company and pick me out the
little boy as robs the Farmer's orchard.

[_The Pony trots round, and thrusts his nose confidently into
a Small Boy's face._

_Small Boy_ (_indignantly_). Ye're a _liar_, Powney; so theer!

_Clown._ Now, see if you can find me the little gal as steals her
mother's jam and sugar. Look sharp now, don't stand there playin' with
yer bit!

_A Little Girl_ (_penitently, as the Accusing Quadruped halts in front
of her_). Oh, please, Pony, I won't never do it no more!

_Clown._ Now go round and pick me out the Young Man as is fond o'
kissin' the girls and married ladies when their 'usbands is out o' the
way. (_The Pony stops before an Infant in Arms._) 'Ere, think what
yer _doin'_ now. You don't mean _'im_, do you? (_The Pony shakes his
head._) Is it the Young Man standin' just beyind as is fond o' kissin
the girls? (_The Pony nods._) Ah, I thought so!

_The Rustic Lothario_ (_with a broad grin_). It's quoite tri-ew!

_Clown._ Now I want you, little Pony, to go round and tell me who's
the biggest rogue in the company. (_Reassuringly, as the Pony goes
round, and a certain uneasiness is perceptible among some of the
spectators_). I 'ope no Gentleman 'ere will be offended by
bein' singled out, for no offence is intended, - it is merely a
'armless - (_Finds the Pony at his elbow._) Why, you rascal! do you
mean to say _I'm_ the biggest rogue 'ere? (_The Pony nods._) You've
been round, and can't find a bigger rogue than me in all this company?
(_Emphatic shake of the head from Pony; secret relief of inner circle
of Spectators._) You and me'll settle this later!

_First Spectator_ (_as audience disperses_). That war a clever Pony,

_Second Spect._ Ah, he wur that. (_Reflectively._) I dunno as I shud
keer partickler 'bout _'avin_ of 'im, though!


_A small canvas booth with a raised platform, on which a Young
Woman in short skirts has just performed a few elementary
conjuring tricks before an audience of gaping Rustics._

_The Showman._ The Second Part of our Entertainment will consist
of the performances of a Real Live Zulu from the Westminster Royal
Aquarium. Mr. FARINI, in the course of 'is travels, discovered both
men and women - and this is one of them. (_Here a tall Zulu, simply
attired in a leopard's-skin apron, a bead necklace, and an old busby,
creeps through the hangings at the back._) He will give you a specimen
of the strange and remarkable dances in his country, showin' you the
funny way in which they git married - for they don't git married over
there the same as we do 'ere - cert'n'ly _not_! (_The Spectators form a
close ring round the Zulu._) Give him a little more room, or else you
won't notice the funny way he moves his legs while dancin'.

[_The ring widens a very little, and contracts again, while
the Zulu performs a perfunctory prance to the monotonous
jingle of his brass anklets._

_Melia_ (_critically_). Well, that's the silliest sort of a weddin' as
iver _I_ see!

_Joe._ He do seem to be 'avin' it a good deal to 'isself, don't 'e?

_Showman._ He will now conclude 'is entertainment by porsin round,
and those who would like to shake 'ands with 'im are welcome to do so,
while at the same time, those among you who would like to give 'im a
extry copper for 'isself you will 'ave an opportunity of noticin' the
funny way in which he takes it.

_Spectators_ (_as the Zulu begins to slink round the tent, extending a
huge and tawny paw_). 'Ere, _come_ arn!

[_The booth is precipitately cleared._

* * * * *

"_WRITE Letter Days_" should be the companion volume to _Red Letter
Days_, published by BENTLEY.

* * * * *





* * * * *



The subject of the Smoking-room would seem to be intimately and
necessarily connected with the subject of smoke, which was dealt with
in our last Chapter. A very good friend of mine, Captain SHABRACK of
the 55th (Queen ELIZABETH'S Own) Hussars, was good enough to favour
me with his views the other day. I met the gallant officer, who is,
as all the world knows, one of the safest and best shots of the day,
in Pall Mall. He had just stepped out of his Club - the luxurious
and splendid Tatterdemalion, or, as it is familiarly called, "the
Tat" - where, to use his own graphic language, he had been "killing the
worm with a nip of Scotch."

"Early Scotch woodcock, I suppose," says I, sportively alluding to the

"Scotch woodcock be blowed," says the Captain, who, it must be
confessed, does not include an appreciation of delicate humour amongst
his numerous merits; "Scotch, real Scotch, a noggin of it, my boy,
with soda in a long glass; glug, glug, down it goes, hissin' over the
hot coppers. You know the trick, my son, it's no use pretendin' you
don't" - and thereupon the high-spirited warrior dug me good-humouredly
in the ribs, and winked at me with an eye which, if the truth must be
told, was bloodshot to the very verge of ferocity.

"Talkin' of woodcock," he continued - we were now walking along Pall
Mall together - "they tell me you're writin' some gas or other about
shootin'. Well, if you want a tip from me, just you let into the
smokin' room shots a bit; you know the sort I mean, fellows who are
reg'lar devils at killin' birds when they haven't got a gun in their
hands. Why, there's that little son of a corn-crake, FLICKERS - when
once he gets talkin' in a smokin' room nothing can hold him. He'd talk
the hind leg off a donkey. I know he jolly nearly laid me out the
last time I met him with all his talk - No, you don't," continued the
Captain, imagining, perhaps, that I was going to rally him on his
implied connection of himself with the three-legged animal he had
mentioned, "no you don't - it wouldn't be funny; and besides, I'm not

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Online LibraryVariousPunch, or the London Charivari, Volume 103, November 26, 1892 → online text (page 1 of 3)